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Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me.
Happy birthday, Dear Whatsyerface! Happy birthday to Us!
Yes, I know it’s not really my birthday, and probably not yours either, but it is my creative writing blog‘s second birthday today. Which means that it has also been two full years since this blasted COVID isolation began. And since there’s precious little we can do about that, we may as well consider it yet another milestone reached and celebrate accordingly. Happy birthday to us both!
We’re still here, so there’s still hope. Right?
Hi, I’m Evalena! I’m a bona fide time optimist (a great Swedish expression) and overachiever. I frequently try to accomplish far more than my body, or brain, will permit; and I never seem to learn
my that lesson. Mind you, I’m not entirely convinced that I want to learn this particular lesson. I’d never willingly accept defeat, and I always try to push myself (and sometimes other people) to level up. To be better, do better and reach higher. I kinda like that about me.
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Since juljäveln, aka the yuletide, I’ve been running on autopilot. I don’t cope very well with that time of the year under normal circumstances. Add looming disasters and a bleeding heart to the mix, and my brain can come up with all sorts of creative solutions to the problem. My solution, therefore, is to do as many complicated tasks as possible to keep the bugger distracted.
In November 2020, I took my eyes off the ball for a brief moment and hit the proverbial wall. It resulted in a mental whiplash and a massive meltdown that I’m still recovering from over a year later. Last year, as the days grew darker and the nights got colder, I only had one goal: No flipping breaks! If you could have seen my task list you’d be questioning my sanity now. To be fair, I’ve been doing that on a daily basis for years, so I wouldn’t blame you if you did.
Anyway, the plan was to work my arse off over the holiday season, have a two-week break in January and then resume business as usual after that. Yeah, that didn’t happen. You see, when I tried to step on the break my brain perked up and went, “Ah, look at that! Our anniversary is around the corner.” I went into this lockdown thinking 12 weeks would be ok. My flares tend to last for 6 to 9 months, so I’ve been locked up for months on end before. But never without access to family and friends.
Twelve weeks turned into nine months turned into two years, and just like that, I realised that this could go on forever. Or, at the very least, for the rest of my life. I can’t process that, and I sure as Hel won’t let my brain have at it. Nuh-uh! If you think that means I doubled down and kept adding stuff to my to-do list, you’re right. That’s exactly what I did. And that’s why I’m currently about as fresh as a plum preserve on the midden heap. And, I dare say, about as handsome.
TIME WAITS FOR NOBODY
Freddie Mercury, Time Waits For Nobody, official video.
So, what have I been up to, to have the life-juice sucked out of my batteries? Well, time waits for nobody, as Freddie taught us, and professional bloggers can’t afford to rest on their laurels. With that in mind, I’ve spent four months snuggled up under my duvet (because it’s been flippin’ freezing!), putting my phone and laptop to good use. I’ve been working on my imaginary pirate ship and trying to blow some life back into my social media game.
Social media used to be about work and networking for me. When I was forced into retirement, I had a relatively big internet presence, but the first day I didn’t have a job to go to I packed all of that in. I did some half-hearted instagramming to stay in touch with friends, and I had to hang on to facebook for my mother’s sake. But active I was not. A few months into lockdown, I switched off my phone and the only social media I engaged in after that was the Spoonieverse.
Our people  were already struggling to survive as things were before the Coro-no-no virus reared its ugly head among us, and this whole experience has done its best to grind us all to the bone. Not only have we lost a frighteningly high number of friends and acquaintances to the virus. We have also lost family and friends because of our extended incarceration and, sadly, because people we loved and trusted decided that our lives weren’t worth saving if the price they had to pay was to wear a mask and get the vaccine. It has been, and continues to be, gruesome. So much so that I have put everything, apart from my (almost) secret project, and everybody who’s not a spoonie, a writing partner or the fruit of my womb, on the backburner.
Because that’s all we can do in times like these. Batten down the hatches and weather the storm to survive.
Under my blankets, I’ve spent a lot of time death cleaning my social media accounts, getting rid of old re-posts and stuff that’s no longer relevant. I’ve been updating account details, profile pictures, banners etc. I’ve decided to adopt a graphic profile that ties all the different branches, or cabins to be precise, in the project together. Visibly related but distinct “logos” and colour palettes to make it clear they are all mine but different in kind.
As my brain operates on some weird random access protocol these days, I try to keep a record of all the changes and updates I make in a spreadsheet. I’m pretty sure nothing would get done if it wasn’t for all those little routines and protocols I’ve put in place. It saddens me, to a degree, but at the same time I marvel at my luck. I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would have been like today had I been born 100, or even 50, years earlier.
But I digress…
I decided to streamline my social media presence going forward into four main sets of accounts. From the earliest days, I’ve had my @evalenastyf accounts in English and the @frkstyf (Miss Styf) ones in Swedish. I’m keeping them as the notice boards they’ve always been. A place to post updates on whatever I have going on, whether it’s a new video, a new product in my shops or a new text to read.
A few months ago, I set up two new accounts for my writing. (I had registered them earlier but not moved into them) There’s @msstyf where I post non-fictional writing stuff. It’s completely SFW and free from my normal rants about social justice and equality. And then there’s @linnealucifer, my trusty old arts and crafts platform that also includes creative writing. It’s NSFW as my creative alter ego, Linnea, (unlike me) has a no holds barred approach to everything she deems worth doing.
A truly humbling experience, as I’ve been sorting these accounts out and setting up the new ones, was to find that a few thousand people were still following me since way back when. And when my accounts began to show proof of life, I started to get messages from people I haven’t spoken to in years. (I’m going to show you snippets of them later on.) But it wasn’t just old friends and followers I found.
Over the past six months, another few thousand people have decided to click my follow buttons, particularly on Twitter and TikTok, where the writing and reading communities are extremely active. And surprisingly friendly. In a very short period of time, I have found a virtual version of a social circle that offers help, support, stimulating conversation and daily doses of laughter. Stranger still, I also met two people who quickly transcended the virtual barriers to challenge me intellectually, push my buttons and move my goalposts. Boundaries be damned.
These two are like the cream cheese frosting on a carrot cake. Simply gorgeous! I’ll hold them very close to my heart for the rest of my life.
For all the new faces I haven’t interacted with yet, and for any oldies in the group who may have forgotten, I decided to put together a little introduction and a “let’s get to know each other” series. It’s a mix of videos and blog posts, and I’ll be dropping them on a weekly and biweekly basis on different accounts. In keeping with the plans for my (almost) secret project, my aim for you, dear reader, is to make sure we get to know each other better before the adventure starts for reals.
Does that sound good to you too? Right, here we go then…
Hello 👋 and welcome on board The Resilience. I thought I should make an effort and do the social thing which, if my memory serves me right, includes introducing oneself to newcomers. So, without further ado…
As my name suggests, I’m Evalena. I’m a 50-plus Swedish expat, living in a Queen size bed currently located in the eastern outskirts of London, UK. I’m a retired educator, consultant and coach with a background in media production, hospitality and healthcare. I’m a knowsy roll model, a prolific content creator and a crafty Gamergran. Yeah, I know it sounds like a mouthful and a half, but I am also a fairly useless human being who has decided to dig my life’s worth of written content out of storage boxes, hard drives and anonymous blog portals, to make it readily available for human consumption. Under my own name and on my own domains. This is what we call professional blogging. Or content creation.
Technically speaking, my Big Blogging Experiment began over four years ago, but it’s only been (partly) visible for a couple of months. My goal for this year was to be able to announce the Experiment on my birthday in September and maybe, possibly manage to launch my pièce de résistance the following year. But that was before I switched the auto-pilot on.
Today, as we “celebrate” the fact that not even two years in solitary confinement has managed to pass me on to the next dimension, I have an announcement to make. I bloody well did it!
Watch this space, or follow the links. Or both by all means. I have a pretty big announcement coming up. Not only is it a big experiment, but it’s also a great adventure and you are more than welcome to tag along and see where it may lead.
Our people, in this respect, are the spoonies. The “cripples and bastards and broken things” (to quote Tyrion Lannister from The Song of Ice and Fire) of the Spoonieverse. Also known as people with disabilities and/or chronic mental or physical illness.